Photography

How to Photograph Fireworks?

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Whether you are new to Dubai or have been here for years, like me, then there is always something new to discover in Dubai. The urban center is renowned for turning fantastical, far-fetched and impossible concepts into reality. Well, our new staff blogger will be exclusively blogging about her life in Dubai, thus allow me to stay focused on the topic.
 
Photographing Fireworks.
I bet no city in the world has so many fireworks, as Dubai do. For a photographer, there is no better place than Dubai to test your skills in firework photography.
Just after the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks from 9 different locations, the city will celebrate by giving city-dwellers a fantastic fireworks show as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival for the entire month of January during the weekend (Thu, Fri, & Sat). The fireworks commences from three different locations, the good old Creek Park, the fabulous Global Village and at The Beach, JBR.
 
fireworks dubai2The Gear:
Any Nikon D-SLR will do. Sorry I’m a nikionian. I suggest you use an electronic cable release, wired or wireless, because the less you touch the camera, the better. A wide-angle lens (Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED) is ideal, and if you are far away from the show, then use a Nikkor 18-200 Zoom with VR or 18-55mm. I have even used my 24-70mm, and 70-200mm.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the latest Nikon multi-million-pixel DSLR camera in your bag, any SLR/DSLR, or mirrorless camera will suffice. If you don’t own a DSLR, get your point and shoot or any other camera you have, other than your mobiles.
 
Additionally, your kit should have:
A tripod, A spare battery, A pocketful of memory cards, (not really, but at least have a spare), and as mentioned above a cable release.
 
Picture Format:
If your camera has the capability, shoot in RAW format instead of JPEG.
 
Focus:
Focus your lens ahead of time, and then turn off AF. Beginners can use the built in camera's autofocus system as it will be able to focus on a fireworks burst. Or you can use manual focus.
 
fireworks dubai3White Balance:
Auto should be fine. If you shoot in RAW, set your White Balance to “Auto”. If you shoot in JPEG, set your White Balance to “Daylight” – it works well in most cases.
 
Noise Reduction:
I suggest you leave it off.
 
Flash:
Leave this off as well, unless you want to illuminate a foreground object.
 
ISO:
Use 100 or 200, and turn off “Auto ISO”, if you have it turned on.
 
Mode:
Switch your camera mode to “Manual Mode”.
 
Aperture:
Start at f/8 and work toward f/11 or f/16.
 
fireworks dubai4Shutter Speed:
Instead of choosing a shutter speed, set the camera to Bulb (B) which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want. Expose for the entire fireworks burst. You can even keep the shutter open for multiple bursts. You can also try with 3 seconds. Even 4 and 5 seconds when there is plenty of activity.
 
Framing:
Don’t worry much about framing your shots in the very beginning – just observe the sky and try to fit the initial explosions. You will be constantly zooming in/out and re-framing, so there is really no set rule for this.

Finally few more tips:
  • Take off any filters or lens caps before shooting.
  • It's recommended you turn off the VR function, since you are using a tripod.
  • Keep in mind that the longer your shutter speed, the more action your camera will capture.
  • Look for a place with an unobstructed view of the sky.
  • Have fun, experiment, and take tons of photos.
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